Queensland Law Society

QLS welcomes Budget funding for justice issues

Queensland Law Society has welcomed the myriad of justice initiatives announced in the 2016-17 State Budget, but believes more funding is needed in crucial areas.

Society president Bill Potts said the Queensland Government had delivered funding to a wide range of important justice issues, including funding to legal aid and access to justice, domestic violence initiatives, the courts and sufficient resources to boost police numbers in Queensland.

“QLS thinks the Government should be congratulated on the fiesta of justice issues the Budget has addressed,’’ Mr Potts said.

“However, the Society has campaigned hard for more to be done by both state and federal governments to ensure access fast and fair to justice is extended to all Queenslanders.’’

Mr Potts said the key areas to attract funding included:

  • $198.2m over five years to respond to Not Now, Not Ever report on domestic violence, including:
    • $43.1m over four years for enhanced counselling, court-based support, sexual assault services and post-crisis stepdown support and services
    • $10.3m over four years for perpetrator interventions, including a pilot of the Child Safety Walking with Dads initiative in Mount Isa, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay
    • $4.4m over five years to establish five new sexual assault support services
    • $3.7m over two years to extend the Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Court trial at Southport and $508,000 over two years for two non-government organisations to support the specialist court trial at Southport
    • $34.8m over three years for the staged rollout of specialist domestic violence courts
    • $11m over four years to enhance the capability of 18 community justice groups in Indigenous communities
    • $2.2m over four years to establish a sexual assault counselling privilege legal assistance service
    • $672,000 over four years for professional development for magistrates
    • $300,000 increased funding over three years for the Women’s Legal Service helpline
  • Moving the existing funding of legal assistance, legal profession regulation and law library services from the Legal Practitioners Interest on Trust Accounts Fund to consolidated revenue, comprising $166.2m over five years
  • $32.4m over four years additional funding for Legal Aid Queensland
  • $20m over two years to respond to the increased number of matters in Queensland courts and other justice initiatives
  • $11.5m over three years additional funding for recording and transcription services in the Queensland courts
  • $19.5m over two years additional funding for the Probation and Parole service and parole boards to improve the supervision and timeliness of decisions
  • $12.1m over four years additional funding for the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • $10.3m over four years for sexual offending reduction programs
  • $4.5m over five years for a specialist women’s prisoner community reintegration support service
  • $8.4m over three years for an independent crime statistics body
  • $3.7m over four years to continue Justices of the Peace hearing minor civil disputes in QCAT
  • $3.5m over four years increased funding for confiscation of assets proceedings
  • $6.1m over four years to fund elder abuse initiatives including to enhance the seniors Legal and Support Services and Elder Abuse Prevention Unit
  • $88.5m over five years to reduce prisoner suicide risk at Borallon Training and Correctional Centre, facilitating the opening of the remaining 244 cells
  • $7.8m over four years to support aerial and satellite imagery of rural and remote areas to assist with vegetation management compliance
  • $39.1m over four years for Queensland Police to target serious and organised crime
  • $40m over two years to increase the first home owners’ grant from $15,000 to $20,000, for contracts signed from 1 July 2016 for 12 months for the purchase of new dwellings valued at less than $750,000
  • $65.4m over five years to implement a new technology platform for SPER
  • $1.3m for a ‘From Jail to Jobs’ pilot program for ATSI offenders in 16/17

Mr Potts also noted that, while government spending on justice was up, revenue-raising initiatives were slim pickings, and included:

  • $27.5m annually from the Legal Practitioners Interest on Trust Accounts Fund paid into consolidated revenue

$70,000 annually raised from a new fee structure for QCAT appeals.